Preventing issues

Getting the jump on problem pongs

EPA officer inspecting effluent management ponds at an intensive livestock facilityThe old adage is true: prevention is better than cure. Knowledge gained from past experience can show us how to keep a problem from happening again.

For example, every year we get complaints about horrible smells. From investigating these we’ve learned which conditions promote problem pongs – for instance, lots of rain.

Spring Odour Campaign

In 2021 the spring rainfall was forecast to be higher than normal. We knew a wet spring could also be a stinky one in some areas, due to a build-up of leachate, effluent and wastewater at odour-prone facilities.

So to prevent this we created the Spring Odour Campaign – a proactive approach. We wrote letters to licensees at high-risk licensed facilities, surveyed them by phone and made follow-up inspections.

Fortunately, we didn’t find any conditions of major concern. We’ll keep monitoring licensed premises at times of heavy rainfall to make sure wet-weather contingency measures are working.

Hunting down a stink

When an offensive odour does strike, we’re on the case. In March 2022 we got a spate of calls from residents around Minchinbury in Sydney’s west.

Our monitors detected a spike in hydrogen sulfide, which was traced back to the nearby Bingo waste facility. Bingo reported that heavy rains were causing the odours. We eventually issued Bingo with a prevention notice.

Our operations officers now patrol the area regularly to make sure the problem doesn’t comeback.

We rely on the community to be our eyes, ears and especially noses.

Help us with your nose!

In the Spring Odour Campaign we stressed to the community that we want people to report bad smells. We rely on the community to be our eyes, ears and especially noses, so we can continue to learn from these events and pre-empt them.

Tracking radioactive sources from cradle to grave

yellow barrels marked Radioactive waste and the radioactive symbol Radioactive sources are used in medicine, research and industry. These sources need to be monitored and safely disposed of.

EPA radiation management licences require owners to list all their radioactive sources, from when they are acquired until they are sold or disposed of.

Before a radioactive source can be disposed of, the EPA must give consent. Before it can be removed from the radiation management licence, the applicant must notify us of the disposal path and provide evidence that the source has reached its destination.

Stopping truck fires before they start

fire truck spraying a burnt out truck with foamMore than 200 trucks catch fire in NSW each year.

Cargo and vehicle may be totally destroyed. And water or any other substance used to put out the blaze contaminates nearby land and watercourses.

Truck fires involving dangerous goods can turn into major incidents. The EPA regulates to make sure dangerous goods are transported safely. We saw an opportunity to help the transport industry prevent truck fires.

We engaged a consultant who specialises in forensic truck fire investigation. He identified the main causes of truck fires and we built this information into a public guide. The guide applies to all heavy vehicles such as trucks and buses, not just to trucks carrying dangerous goods.

cover of the preventing fires - truck inspection manual showing an officer in hiviz inspecting a burnt out truck

The guide is aimed at workshop managers but is also useful for inspectors, maintenance workers and drivers. It says what to look for to prevent fires and what to do when there is a fire.

We published the Preventing Fires – Truck Inspection Manual in June 2022 and will distribute it widely to industry in July and August 2022.

Petrol tanker fires are very hard to put out and can cause significant pollution. Photo: Fire and Rescue NSW.